B. walter & co.
Located on the outer edge of Wabash, Indiana’s historic downtown, B. Walter & Co. is the oldest manufacturing plant in the city. It’s new owner saw the approximately 3 acre field in front of the plant as an opportunity for a community asset. Paying homage to the site and the city’s cultural past, this plot of land was transformed into a community park.
The existing site is essentially a blank canvas. Its close proximity to historic downtown Wabash and residential areas provides connection opportunities, and the history of B. Walter itself was the basis of much inspiration.
While designing, we were cognizant of sights and sounds from the adjacent paper factory to the east, storage area to the west, and well-used one-way street to the north of the site.
Getting to the park is an experience in itself, and creating a safe and eye-catching transition from the street is of the utmost importance. Introducing a median buffers the edge of the site from traffic sights and sounds, and catches the attention of passer-byers. With landings on each end connecting crosswalks and sidewalks on each side of the street, it also creates a safer, human scale pedestrian experience.
The median physically separates Mill Street driving lanes from parallel parking for park-goers. This parallel parking system provides an ample number of spaces and leaves room for larger vehicles, such as food trucks, that could easily line up for event catering. Sidewalks directly connect the parking area to the plaza for accessibility and convenience.
Flexible space with a sneak peak.
Large and open, the paved plaza juts into the park and moves users into the space. Around the perimeter, there is enough room for booths and large amounts of people, an ideal location for art fairs, food truck festivals, and performances. With a cutout in the center where people can view the stream that flows through the park, they get a sweet taste of what is to come on the rest of their park experience. During events, this small connection with nature provides a serene moment in the center of activity.
Expansive and naturalistic.
The plaza juts directly into the central lawn, a vast open space with softly undulating topography and a scattering of trees. It mimics nature’s organic shapes and simplistic harmony. From afar, the space evokes a sense of calmness, but it may be filled with active energy at any given time. The lawn is large enough for many groups of people, and for activities like Frisbee, football, or hosting a birthday picnic. Whether experienced from underneath the shade of an oak tree or seen from the B. Walter conference room, the central lawn is sure to evoke a smile.
An icon for Wabash and B. Walter.
Two bridges cross to the central lawn, exactly across from each other in the site. They stand out as the main built vertical elements in the site, and attract people from throughout the space. The bridges’ metal and wood materials pay homage to the manufacturing plant with an industrial feel. The metal posts meet to form a “W” pattern, reflecting on the setting of Wabash, Indiana.
An interaction with wildlife.
Walking along the gravel path that runs parallel to the stream, users will have a different experience with every step they take. Some areas cut through lawn, some cut through woods, others run close to the water, but some of the most interesting sections are those that cut through swaths of wildflowers. Buzzing with insects and hopping with little creatures, users feel immersed in the environment. Colors pop, transitioning throughout the seasons, with uniquely textured seed pods and stems remaining through the cold months. Plantings right up to the trail provide the chance to lean over when your nose catches the fresh scent of a flower, for children to chase that toad that suddenly darted across the path.
serene, textured, all-season plantings
The design for B. Walter & Co. is simple, historic, and unique, with a call to kinder, gentler times. The plantings include large oak and maple trees to anchor the space and bring vibrant fall color, lush pines and spruces to provide a buffer and winter interest, as well as prairie mixes of grasses and wildflowers to create flowing swaths of color and texture.